Clinton's second transition Cabinet shakeup: Top secretaries and White House aides to leave.

November 14, 1996

PRESIDENT CLINTON, like Ronald Reagan before him, is preparing for a second term with changes in his Cabinet that, in sheer numbers, mark a sharp departure from past presidential practice. Together with a major shakeup in his White House staff, this almost guarantees a new look for the Clinton administration.

At least six secretaries are leaving: Warren Christopher at State; William Perry at Commerce; Mickey Kantor at Commerce; Robert Reich at Labor; Hazel O'Leary at Energy, and Henry Cisneros at Housing and Urban Development. Question marks are Bruce Babbitt at Interior, Jesse Brown at Veterans Affairs and Richard Riley at Education. Stayers are Robert Rubin at Treasury, Donna Shalala at Health and Human Services, Dan Glickman at Agriculture and, barring a Clinton thumbs down, Janet Reno at Justice.

One reason for such a large exodus at one time is, paradoxically, the comparative stability of the first Clinton Cabinet. Many of the president's aides are burned out and eager to return to home and family. The only Cabinet changes in four years have been at Treasury, Defense, Agriculture and Commerce.

Much speculation centers on whether the president will name Republicans to his Cabinet or whether his desire for "diversity" will preclude GOP white males as was the case four years ago. Among Republicans touted as possible appointees are retiring Sen. William Cohen (at Defense or CIA) and former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean (at Education).

Cleaning house in this way may have its uses. After four years, a president should know who is good and who should be replaced. He no longer is a stranger from out of town having to pick strangers to fill 588 full-time jobs and 112 part-time jobs subject to Senate confirmation plus another 245 posts that do not have to pass muster on Capitol Hill.

The importance of the second transition is hard to overestimate. On Inaugural Day in January, Mr. Clinton's opportunity to balance the budget, control entitlements, open up higher education and develop a more convincing foreign policy will never be so strong again. Much will depend on the quality of his appointees.

Pub Date: 11/14/96

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